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Arthur Rank Hospice is delighted to run its first ever student volunteering programme which started in September 2018 and will run until April 2019. Seven, 16-17-year-old young people were invited from their Further Education Colleges onto the programme.Our Voluntary Services Coordinator, Hannah Touhey explains: “It’s a great way for young people in their first year of A-levels, who are interested in a career in medicine or healthcare, to breakdown any myths they may have of hospices, gain some practical experience in health and palliative care and to support their university applications by volunteering within the Hospice in a variety of roles”.During their placement at the Hospice the students will be placed in four different roles shadowing current volunteers in the main reception, the In-patient unit reception, the Bistro and in the in-patient unit. The students tell us why they wanted to be part of the programme and what their experience has involved so far…Ben – May 2019 My time at the Arthur Rank Hospice has been a hugely rewarding one. I really was not expecting it to be as overwhelmingly positive and uplifting as it has been. This may seem strange in a palliative context, but the care, kindness and positivity of the staff makes for a remarkable environment. This experience has completely changed my view of palliative care and I feel grateful to have gained such a valuable insight into why this type of health service is so important to the patients and so valued by their families.I have also developed a number of skills whilst volunteering. Some of these have been practical, but principally they have involved dealing with people in different circumstances, from helping visitors on the Main Reception, to serving meals and chatting to patients. I think I have also become much more comfortable talking about end of life and bereavement. Currently, I am helping to prepare and serve the patients’ meals on Sunday evenings whilst also assisting the In-Patient Unit nursing team. The nursing staff make you feel really valued whilst doing your job and are grateful for your help, no matter how small the task. Each person is motivated to give the best quality of service and patient care they can, and I have been struck by everyone’s kindness within the Unit. During my time on the Program, I have also been helping out on Reception and in the Bistro, which gave me the opportunity to get to know the staff and other volunteers. There is a great team atmosphere within the Hospice and the Voluntary Services team has been especially supportive. Annie- April 2019I decided to apply for the student volunteer programme at ARHC to get an opportunity to help those in need and to gain vital experience in a healthcare role, as I’d like to go on to be a paramedic. During my time at the Hospice I’ve had the chance to experience lots of different aspects and be a part of everything that goes on, such as the Bistro and reception, with the Bistro being my favourite because you get to interact with lots of people throughout the shift. The most rewarding experience so far has definitely been helping out in the IPU. I love meeting the nurses and healthcare assistants and talking to them about their role, and I really enjoy chatting to patients too. As well as being a student volunteer I have now become an ambassador for the Hospice, and I can’t wait to spread awareness and knowledge for the fantastic work ARHC do. I have learnt so much from volunteering at the Hospice and I think it has helped me prepare for my training. I am thoroughly looking forward to hopefully volunteering even more in my gap year.Madhurya – March 2019″The opportunity to volunteer at Arthur Rank Hospice has allowed me to get involved with a range of roles: including working at the Bistro, main reception and IPU reception and on the IPU unit. I feel this has given me the opportunity to develop a range of skills: such as communicating with people of all ages, serving food and interacting with patients. I have also learned about palliative care and the support that Arthur Rank Hospice gives their patients.I am glad I could volunteer as it allowed me to learn about a healthcare environment and all the different types of roles that are involved in supporting the Hospice. I felt able to help the Hospice even though I was only volunteering part time. It was very pleasing to know I could be of help to people when they need it most, even if it was indirectly.The environment in the Hospice is extremely friendly and I enjoyed getting to meet and interact with volunteers, health care assistants and nurses. I was pleased to see how everyone tries to make the atmosphere very positive.I hope that for the rest of the time I volunteer, I will be able to make the most of the experience. As I continue working in the IPU, I will learn from the staff and volunteers who make every effort to cater to the needs of the patients and their family members”.Niamh – February 2019“Some of my motivations for joining the student volunteering programme at the Arthur Rank Hospice were the opportunities to learn more about palliative care, to develop an understanding of working as part of a healthcare team, and of course to actively contribute to the charity. My experience so far has been fantastic, whether that be helping in reception, the Bistro or the IPU. I have taken part in various tasks including taking calls and messages, working the till and talking to customers of the Bistro, and helping to organise schedules. By far the most rewarding experience in my time so far has been preparing meals for patients and assisting in the In-Patient Unit. The chance to speak with members of staff and other volunteers about the roles that they play within the Hospice has been inspiring and it is clear to see that everyone loves being a part of the team.I’ve learnt that every member of staff is important in providing the best care possible to patients, regardless of the magnitude of their role. I feel like I have actively been able to help and not just observe, which is exactly what I was hoping to gain from the experience.In the remainder of my time volunteering at the Hospice I hope to continue to learn from those around me, take these experiences forward with me and use them to enrich my future as I pursue a career in medicine!”Ciara – December 2018Ciara has been visiting us since she was a baby as her mum works for the Hospice. Ciara is currently studying Health and Social Care and Biology at sixth form with the aim of becoming a Midwife which is why joining our Student Volunteer Programme has provided an excellent insight into a medical environment. Here’s what Ciara has been involved with during her time here:“So far, I have been working in the Hospice Bistro on Sundays, and WOW what great Sunday lunches the Bistro provides! It is great to see how the kitchen staff provide for the patients – ranging from them either wanting very small portions – one patient only asking for one roast potato or providing pureed meals etc. The chef really tries to be accommodating to all the patients’ needs where possible. The Bistro is very busy on a Sunday, with relatives coming for lunches and local people coming in, as it is such good food. Arthur Rank Hospice Sunday Bistro crumble and custard is also not one to be missed!I have enjoyed working in the Bistro, as you get to meet so many people, both patients and relatives who pop in for their lunch and local, older people who may enjoy sharing their lunch in a sociable atmosphere, rather than being alone at home”.“I have also spent some time manning reception, both on the In-patient unit and main reception. Here, you need to have a smile, be welcoming and have a good knowledge of what events are going on around the building, so you know where to guide people too. Later on in December, I will begin to do a morning shift (8am-11am) within the In-Patient Unit working alongside a current volunteer to help give out breakfasts, provide drinks, run errands for the nursing staff and help keep areas clean and tidy. I am looking forward to working more closely with the patients, spending time listening to them. I am hoping I can learn more about communication skills and have a better understanding of a busy hospice environment. This will all be great grounding for my future career.”Elizabeth – November 2018″I have been volunteering at Arthur Rank Hospice for nine weeks. I started off volunteering at the main reception where I would direct people as needed and sell merchandise for the charity. During particularly quiet spells I spent some time on the In-patient unit (IPU) reception, here I greeted visitors and made sure they knew where they were going. Over the last few weeks I have been helping out in the Bistro serving food to the friends and families that come to visit. I have enjoyed working in the Bistro most because I get the chance to interact with more people. I am very much looking forward to working with patients in the IPU soon. “The Arthur Rank Hospice does wonderful work for the patients and provides much needed support for their families and friends. From the recent experiences of my parents’ friends, I know the importance of the range of services provided by hospices, providing dignified care and responding to patients’ wishes during very difficult times. This is why I wanted to volunteer myself. Volunteering is vitally important to the charity as it provides extra hands, friendly faces and services to the patients, friends and families that visit. “At some point in our lives, we may all have to cope with terminally ill loved ones and it is important for people to understand how they will be cared for at this time. Arthur Rank Hospice fulfils this role very well.”Aadrian – November 2018″I have always been very interested in medicine and healthcare. I’m especially pleased to volunteer at the Hospice as it’s the first time I have been able to gain experience in the field of medicine. I am hoping to learn more about how to best interact with patients and how healthcare can be personalised, to make the patient’s life as enjoyable and as fulfilling as possible”.”I’ve been surprised by how large the Hospice actually is and how many patients it has. In the last few weeks my experience has included manning the In-patient unit reception every Thursday, after 5pm. This includes opening the after-hours door, helping visitors and answering telephone calls. It is a fantastic feeling to assist with someone’s query, or to help some of the incredible nurses and volunteers do their crucial jobs”. “Recently I have begun to work at the Bistro on Sundays, helping to serve food and work the till. I love the friendly ambience and welcoming atmosphere there, along with the hearty Sunday Roast and equally delicious lighter choices, like the sausage rolls”. “I knew that the general attitude would be positive here, but I admire how uplifting the atmosphere of the Hospice actually is. There is always laughter to be heard, along with good, comforting conversations. There is an incredible community spirit throughout the entire Hospice and I have loved being part of the Arthur Rank Hospice team and the family of volunteers here”. One of our volunteers commented on Aadrian’s performance:“He was very impressive and so confident with an air of commitment that was impressive for his 16 years. It was good to work with him and I was so confident that he could cope at the desk, I was able to spend some time talking to the daughter of a friend who is currently a patient on IPU”.It is lovely to hear from our students taking part in our Student Volunteer Programme – thank you for sharing your experience.If you would like more information on our Student Volunteer Programme, please give our Voluntary Services team a call on 01223 675872 or email Hannah.Touhey@arhc.org.uk .